By Christian George
The United States military has begun tracking the suspected Chinese high-altitude spy balloon, a development that further punctures US – Chinese relationship.
The pentagon spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, stressed that the US government has been tracking the balloon for several days as it made its way over the northern United States.
General Ryder said that the balloon was traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.
A senior US defense official said President Joe Biden was advised by senior military officials not to shutdown the balloon with reason that the debris could pose a safety threat to people on the ground.
“We are confident that this high-altitude surveillance balloon belongs to the People’s Republic of China,” a senior defense official said. “Instances of this activity have been observed over the past several years, including prior to this administration,” adding that US is “taking steps nevertheless to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information. We are also tracking what abilities it could have in gaining insights and continue to monitor the balloon as it was over the continental United States.”
The US believes Chinese spy satellites in low Earth orbit are capable of offering similar or better intelligence, limiting the value of whatever Beijing can glean from the high-altitude balloon, which is the size of three buses, according to another defense official, CNN reported.